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5 IMPORTANT Ways Jobs Will Change In the 4th Industrial Revolution


Recently, a friend of mine walked into a law office that still used a typewriter to type contracts and letters; a typewriter in a law office in the 21st century? This was not in some rural area without access to power supply. This was in one of the most urban cities in Africa.

If you walked into an office like that, how would you feel about the business? Disappointed or impressed?

The truth is that this business represents the attitude of most people when you talk about the future of work. These people believe it wouldn’t make any difference to adopt new skills. Life will work itself out somehow.

But whether you like it or not; whether you are indifferent or concerned, the fourth industrial revolution is upon us. Amidst the headlines exclaiming the predicted loss of jobs due to automation and other changes brought by artificial intelligence, machine learning and autonomous systems, it’s clear that the way we work and live is transforming.

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Since we know change is inevitable, let’s look at how work will likely change and some ideas for how to prepare for it.

Should you really be Concerned?

You may be thinking, “But I live in a developing country. How does this concern me?” Before you dismiss this as not relating to you, remember that, with every economic disruption, the gap between those who have and those who don’t have widens. Imagine you read about the information technology revolution 20 years ago? You had the opportunity to take advantage of the trend. 20 years down the line, would it have made a difference if you positioned yourself or not? Absolutely.

The most valuable companies in the world today where founded by those who took advantage of information technology. The point is that those who are first to adapt to change usually take the lead.

So you don’t have to be in the United States or China to be concerned. Having said that, let’s look at important ways jobs will change in the fourth industrial revolution.

  • Work will be more flexible

In the future, companies won’t be structured the same way. Instead of having specific job titles in a rigid organization charts, workers will move towards “project based teams”. In this new workplace, employees are enabled and encouraged to move more fluidly across organizations to work on specific jobs or projects.

The new workforce would be more interested in a situation where they can have multiple roles within one place of employment. No longer will employees sign a contract, get a fixed role, and work for five years.

  • Work will involve more “Freelance”

Traditionally, you need to apply for a job in a company and work with the company until you decide to move on. Internet technologies has created a new labor market that goes beyond permanent jobs and is characterized by short-term contracts or freelance work, also known as the “gig economy.” There is an increasing number of freelance platforms on the internet.

Instead of getting a fixed job, professionals will prefer to work as freelancers for project-specific jobs. And then move on the next opportunity. Instead of hiring a software developer and paying monthly salaries, employers will prefer to hire freelance developers on project bases. This is likely to become more widespread across the workforce..

As technology continues to cause work cycles to spin faster and project timelines to shrink, the next generation is beginning to have a different view of what it means to be employed. Companies are already tapping into this new labor force.  

  • Work will be decentralized

Employees thinking they have to be located at a company’s headquarters to move their career forward, is a fixed mindset that is quick becoming obsolete. Thanks to today’s technology, and readily available internet access, employees don’t have to be in the same location as their employer. As a result, the next Generation workers are more likely to choose a city before they choose a job.

  • New Technology Skills will be required for new Jobs

People with typewriting skills who refused to learn to use MS word had to lose their jobs. But more new jobs were created. Similarly, while many jobs will become obsolete due to Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, more opportunity and jobs will be created as a result.

Artificial intelligence algorithms and intelligent machines will be co-workers to humans. The human workforce will need to develop a level of comfort and acceptance for how man and machine can collaborate using the best that both bring to the workplace.

  • Work will Require Lifelong learning

Not only will new work force need to learn throughout their career, they will also need to learn new skills. Technology will continue to evolve the role humans play in the workforce, so workers will be required to adapt their skills throughout their working lives. You will no longer rely on what you studied in school years ago to get work done, but what you are learning now.

  • Work will require new Motivation

Rather than succumb to the doomsday predictions that “robots will take over all the jobs,” a more optimistic outlook is one where humans get the opportunity to do work that demands their creativity, imagination, social and emotional intelligence, and passion.

People will need something more than a paycheck as a motivation to work. Many will want to work for an organization with a mission and purpose they believe in. They will also want different incentives such as personal development opportunities, the latest tech gadgets to facilitate their work-from-anywhere ambitions, and more.

How to Prepare for the Future of Work

Even though we can’t predict all the changes that will occur in the future, there are some things you can do to prepare for it.

You will need to act and engage in lifelong learning, to be more adaptable. The lifespan for any given skill set is shrinking, so it will be inevitable to continue to invest in acquiring new skills. The shift to lifelong learning needs to happen now because the changes are already happening.

Gone are the days when a career trajectory is outlined at one company with predictable climbs up the corporate ladder. Employees will need to pursue a diverse set of work experiences and take the initiative to shape their own career paths.

We need to begin to think of work as more than a paycheck. Emotional intelligence, critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving skills will become more required for work than any other skill set.

While nothing is certain, it’s important for you to begin taking steps in the direction to prepare for the future of work. Don’t be like that law office that is still using a typewriter today. If we don’t begin to adapt to the changes today, it will be challenging to catch up later.

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